Ray(mond Douglas) Davies Dave Schulps - Essay

Dave Schulps

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

What [the live album] One for the Road shows so well is how vital the Kinks are as we enter the '80s. After years on the fringe of mainstream rock, unwilling to compromise themselves for the sake of trendiness, it's no accident that the Kinks are currently more popular than at any time since the mid-'60s. Rock has come back to the Kinks' way of thinking, and for the first time in a while the group is in a position to reap the benefits. If the Jam can have an English hit with "David Watts," and the Pretenders score with "Stop Your Sobbing" why shouldn't the Kinks restore both to their set? Why shouldn't the Kinks, who fooled around with calypso in the early '70s ("Apeman," "Supersonic Rocket Ship"), concoct a sterling ska arrangement for the venerable "'Til the End of the Day"? The answer is simple: they should. And it's all here.

Maybe it's a sign of growth that the Kinks are able to reconcile past with present so neatly. When they were doing their theatrical concept shows, the Kinks' run-through of old hits always seemed a bit uncomfortable and obligatory; now old meshes seamlessly with new, emphasized by the inclusion of six Low Budget songs (all of side three, the album's low-point).

Low Budget's simple approach has carried over to the band's stage show. They sound more youthful here than they have in years, especially on "Pressure" (which somehow suggests manic Buzzcocks more than Kinks). As comparatively straight as he plays it, Ray Davies is still a master of theatrics and man of a thousand voices. His gift for perfect inflections and phrasing is uncanny, his sense of timing that of a veteran entertainer.

Dave Schulps, "Livest Kinks: You've Heard the Record, Now Buy the Videotape," in Trouser Press (copyright © 1980 by Trans-Oceanic Trouser Press, Inc.), Vol. 7, No. 7, August, 1980, p. 18.